The Forest Preserve District of Cook County Board of Commissioners has unanimously passed the proposed 2013 budget, which calls for expenditures of $189 million, and no tax increase. The budget includes plans for a renewed focus on community engagement and outreach, working with community groups, churches, not-for-profits and other organizations to attract new users. The year will also see an expansion of free special events programming started in 2012, including canoeing and paddling outings, films and dances in the forest, and other family-friendly and educational offerings. The budget includes $15.2 million for Brookfield Zoo (the zoo raises an additional $48 million) and $9.4 million for the Botanic Garden (the garden raises an additional $21.2 million). Established in 1914, the district is the oldest and largest forest preserve system in the nation, maintaining more than 68,000 acres of open land used by more than 40 million visitors annually.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.